WASHINGTON: A high-profile political defection in Florida has hinted at the influence of America’s Tea Party movement in shaping November’s mid-term congressional elections.It also plays to fears of further polarisation in Washington, reducing opportunities for bipartisanship at a time when Americans are denouncing their system of government as dysfunctional and unable to tackle pressing issues.Florida’s populist and moderate governor, Charlie Crist, announced on Thursday that he was quitting the Republican Party in his bid to win a seat in the Senate as an independent.His decision had been speculated as it became clear that he could not win his party’s endorsement ahead of conservative opponent Marco Rubio, the 38-year-old son of Cuban exiles and an emerging Republican star championed by the Tea Party.Explaining his decision, Mr Crist told supporters in St Petersburg: ”I haven’t supported an idea because it’s a Republican idea or a Democratic idea. I support ideas I believe are good ideas for the people and I have always found that is exactly what the people believe, too. They’ve had enough of political fighting. They’re tired of the games and the name-calling.”Mr Crist is considered a likely first victim of an ideological battle within a Republican Party being pushed to the right by Tea Partiers who have turned on moderates, branding them accomplices to Barack Obama’s ”socialism”.The anti-tax, anti-government movement, which comprises a loose coalition of disaffected voters has targeted mostly Republicans who its supporters believe are RINOs (”Republicans in name only”) who have abandoned traditional Republican values.Some commentators argue the downfall of Mr Crist unmasks the Tea Party’s true identity – namely, angry rank-and-file Republicans purging moderates from within the party.”What happens to Republicans who don’t march to the right-wing tune?” asked liberal commentator Chris Mathews, of MSNBC. ”Well, they’re getting purged. This is Stalinesque, this stuff.”A professor of governmental affairs at the University of Tampa, Scott Paine, said Mr Crist could use the next six months to paint Mr Rubio into a conservative corner. ”Florida is not that conservative … [it] supported Barack Obama two years ago,” he said.Mr Crist’s biggest battle will be to raise campaign funds without major party backing.
Nanjing Night Net